The Moving Decade, by local artist Bean Friend, is a haunting yet hopeful ambient piano album performed and recorded in Silo City and released this past week.
Each of the songs in this album were recorded in a single take, utilizing a handful of strategically placed microphones and one upright piano, placed deep within the belly of the silos. The silos act not only as an echo chamber, reverberating the emotive qualities of Bean Friend’s piano compositions, but also act as a mouth piece for the sounds of their surrounding external environment.
Discerning listeners will be able to pick out the chirps of a distant cricket, the splash of water draining through the dilapidated silo’s ceiling and the crack of active hammers and nails; a reminder of the dynamic forces necessary for the rejuvenation of this historic rust-belt site.
Well this is a special Feature Friday indeed. Now that you’ve set the tone for your successful day, let’s get down to business. Snow and gray have fallen on the city, but we’ve got photographers near and far reminding you of the beauty of it all by mixing in their own color, style, and fun. The weekly Instagram round up is below. A reminder to throw #RiseBFLO on your photos and get featured on our IG account, here, or in The Public’s online and print editions. First, let’s hear more from Bean Friend. How he arrived to Buffalo, how he came to do a recording in Silo City, and the people in that area of town that made all the difference.
In Summer of 2015, my wife and I moved to Buffalo from Toronto. She brought me down to Silo City to show me what Buffalo once was: a dynamic hub of the Industrial Revolution. I walked into Marine A, a series of non-operational grain silos, and I was enthralled with the reverb of the massive structure. While I snapped my fingers at the base of the 120ft cement cylindrical structure, I heard the sound waves swirling up and down the silos, again and again. I thought to myself, “I would love to create music in here.”
A few weeks later, I searched for free pianos on Craigslist. I assembled my friends Tim and Shawn, and we rented a U-Haul. We scooped up a piano and moved it down to the belly of the silos.
I remember the first time I drove down there to record with all my equipment. I had three microphones, three microphone stands, three 25-foot XLR cables, a 20-foot light stand, blankets, clamps and tools, my laptop, a hard drive, an audio interface, a 100 foot extension cable, and a few lights. It took me about three hours to just set up the equipment. I sat down at the piano, and I realized that I didn’t have any idea what I was going to play. I didn’t come to the silos with any pre-conceived musical ideas.
In the coming weeks, I got into a groove. I felt more comfortable and confident in the space. I started experimenting with microphone placement, and I even moved my piano a few times. I never considered myself a pianist or a sound engineer, so the whole experience was a steep learning curve for me.
None of this could have happened without the Silo City crew: Rick Smith, Swannie Jim, Bob the Builder, and Kevin Caine. My biggest thanks goes to those guys! Whether they know it or not, they are a huge catalyst in the resurgence of Buffalo.
“The Moving Decade” is an ambient album; music to help people meditate, study, or sleep. Or, just chill.
No “studio magic” was used in recording this album. Everything you hear is a single piano in a huge silo.
Head over to Essex Street next Thursday, January 21, for a collaboration show between Bean and Max Collins.
Time for the visual party that consistently makes Rise’s Feature Friday the best spot in town to discover new accounts and get inspired for your own photography. In the weeks to come, if you’d like your album, release party, launch party, small business, non profit or advocacy group to gain the attention of Buffalo’s best and brightest on social media (our followers), hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org